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Media Summary

Saudi removed from UN’s child rights “shame list”

The BBC leads with the letter signed by 47 UN human rights experts which warns that Israel’s plan to apply its laws to the West Bank would amount to “a Palestinian Bantustan”. They added that the Israeli occupation was already a “source of profound human rights violations against the Palestinian people”, and that they “would only intensify after annexation”. The article cites Jewish historical and religious rights to the West Bank as the reason why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to act now, as well as to remove any doubt to the future fate of the settlement movement, something which strongly appeals to Netanyahu’s political base.

The Financial Times leads with Israel’s annexation plan, which it terms the ‘existential threat’ to Palestinian dreams. The report notes that the Israeli Prime Minister sees an opportunity to permanently and fundamentally alter Israel’s borders in way that would have caused international uproar only a few years ago, but which might be possible while he has a favourable administration in power in the US, at a time when regional support for the Palestinians has declined and while much of the world is distracted by the pandemic.

The Times, The Guardian, BBC report that Saudi Arabia has been removed from a UN “list of shame” of armed forces guilty of killing and abusing children, despite being named in an accompanying report as responsible for strikes on civilians in Yemen. UN officials said the decision had been taken because of a “sustained, significant decrease” in the number of child casualties caused by airstrikes in the Yemeni civil war. Several international NGOs have expressed anger at the decision and fear that political pressure was brought on the UN.

The Independent focuses on the challenges that the new Iraqi Prime Minister faces. The report lists several crises for Mustafa al-Kadhimi, including the coronavirus, plunging oil revenues, an ISIS fightback and a brewing US-Iran conflict, in which Iraq be the political and military battlefield where the US and Iran fight out their differences.

The Times reports the apparent suicide of Egyptian gay rights activist Sarah Hegazy at her home in Canada has prompted a rare outbreak of sympathy in her homecountry noted for its hostility to “alternative lifestyles”. Mohamed ElBaradei, the former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who became a leading figure in the 2011 Tahrir Square uprising, said: “One day we will have the self-confidence to learn to accept difference. One day we will know the meaning of tolerance.”

The BBC report on concerns over the new COVID-19 contact-tracing apps being rolled out in the Middle East, and in particular Kuwait and Bahrain. Amnesty International says the new app puts the privacy and security of their users at risk and has urged the Gulf states to stop using it them. Researchers at Amnesty’s Security Lab carried out a technical analysis of 11 apps in Algeria, Bahrain, France, Iceland, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Norway, Qatar, Tunisia and the UAE. Bahrain’s “BeAware Bahrain” and Kuwait’s “Shlonik” stood out as being among the most alarming mass surveillance tools, according a report published on Tuesday.

In an exclusive interview in The Telegraph, the team leading the UAE’s mission to Mars programme said the probe will study Mars’ atmosphere for an entire Martian year, or 657 Earth days, and could provide further clues as to why water and other life sources struggle to survive on the Red Planet. On 14 July, the UAE’s “Hope Probe” will launch from Japan and is expected to enter Mars’ orbit by February 2021. The report notes that the preparations for the launch have been severely impeded by the coronavirus. The mission’s scientists have been required to follow social distancing rules, while the movement of staff between the UAE and the launch site in Japan has also been challenged by travel restrictions.

The Independent reports on Turkey’s aerial raids on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, where fighters have maintained presence for decades. The Turkish military said on Monday it had destroyed 81 shelters and bunkers belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Iraq’s Qandil mountains and positions along the borders of Turkey and northeast Syria in what it has dubbed “Operation Eagle Claw.” The numbers of dead and wounded remains unclear, but a local official in the town of Sinjar said three members of a PKK-affiliated group were wounded in the strikes.

All the Israel media focus on the rise of coronavirus cases. Over the past day, 258 people in Israel tested positive for the coronavirus. The number of active cases is currently 3,744, of whom 39 are in serious condition, an increase of four patients. Twenty-nine of them are on ventilators, three more than yesterday. The Knesset has agreed to extend the emergency regulations for 45 days that will allow the police to enforce the obligation to wear masks and to quarantine, as well as prohibitions against public assembly. Today the coronavirus cabinet will discuss establishing a national control centre to combat the virus. A disagreement between the health, finance and defence ministries has delayed investment of NIS 150 million in technological developments that will assist in fighting the virus.

All the Israel media report on Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s trip to Israel yesterday along with six cabinet ministers for meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli government officials. Following their meetings, Netanyahu announced that the new target date for resuming flights between the two countries is 1 August, but “that depends on whether we’re able to keep the pandemic under control”. Mitsotakis said: “We are at a turning point. I am certain that this relationship can contribute greatly to both countries. We always feel at home when we come here, and I know that that is the case when Israelis visit us.” Mitsotakis went on to say that [with Greece] Israel had a friend in the European Union that would defend its interests and would be able to explain Israel’s special security sensitivities in the region. The two leaders reportedly discussed Hezbollah and ways to end the EU’s distinction between its military and political wings.

Israel Hayom leads with a report that suggests Prime Minister Netanyahu is now considering splitting the application of Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank into two stages: beginning with the settlements deep in the West Bank that are not part of the major settlement blocs. According to the report, Netanyahu believes that doing so will help him allay the concerns and consequently temper the objections of some US administration officials, King Abdullah of Jordan and the settlers (each for different reasons). Israel Hayom also reports on why there has been a delay in the presentation of maps. A preliminary map of [Israeli] sovereignty was drafted by Col. Danny Tirza, the man who planned the route of the separation barrier in the past. That map, which was subsequently circulated by the Yesha Council, grants the future Palestinian state territorial contiguity, but it drew opposition from parts of the Israeli right-wing. It was in light of those developments that the Americans were shown a second map that was more considerate of the settlers and which did not grant the Palestinians territorial contiguity. The Israeli-American mapping committee has held numerous meetings about that map but has failed to reach an agreement.

Yediot Ahronot leads with a report published yesterday by the Israeli Employment Service in which 960,000 Israelis have filed for job requests by the end of May due to the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered the economy for two months, and the prolonged lockdown imposed on the population. The report notes the impact of the pandemic on Israel’s unemployment growth: In February, before the pandemic, Israel’s unemployment rate stood at 3.9 per cent. By the end of April, at the height of the crisis, the rate of unemployment hit 27.5 per cent, but dropped to 23.5 per cent at the end of May. This morning the Knesset gave final approval to a bill that will enable up to 50,000 extra people who have been laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic to receive both unemployment compensation for the period from March through June and other government allowances for which they were eligible.

Kan Radio News reports that prospective Shas MK candidate Rabbi Baruch Gazahi has informed his party leader, Aryeh Deri, that he will not serve in the Knesset. Recordings of Gazahi, who was supposed to take office after the Norwegian Law was passed into legislation, emerged in which he said that women became sick with breast cancer because they had previously borne their breasts in public. He also attributed miscarriages to women posting pictures of their stomachs on Facebook. Minister Deri said that he had spoken with Rabbi Gazahi, who told him that his remarks had been taken out of context from a two-hour study session that he had led four years ago. Deri reportedly told Gazahi that his remarks were unacceptable and unrepresentative of Shas.